The foundation stone of Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry was laid in 22 Shawwal 1422 AH (January 6, 2002) under the patronage of H.H. Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister then. The Minister of Energy, H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (then Minister of Information and Chairman of the National Council of Culture, Arts and Letters) represented him in this occasion.
Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry is the world's first library specializing in Arabic poetry. Its uniqueness stems from the interests of its founder and owner, poet Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain, who wanted the library to be one of the projects he funds to serve Arabic poetry, including the foundation of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Prize for Poetic Creativity, the courses of prosody he organizes all over the Arab world, and the publishing of books and anthologies, old and new. Therefore, the library emerged as a sympathetic vessel that protects poems and those who write, narrate, study and conduct research in poetry. This interest is not confined to classical poetry, but it also covers modern poetry, out of a strong belief of the importance of communication between different generations across the eternal bridge of creativity, on which our civilization was built and advanced.
In the beginning, all praise and thanks to God who paved the way for me to spread his word "read", and peace and blessings be upon his prophet Mohammad who received the word and used it wisely academically and artistically to be a traversal gate to a civilization that represents an inexhaustible spring throughout the ages.
I'm pleased to present this library to lovers, scholars and writers of Arabic poetry to help them find their long-desired objectives and to assist in fulfilling the desire of Arabic poetry lovers to navigate the world of poetry: old & new. The library also offers other options that can help navigators gain knowledge in all aspects of creativity.
If the Arab anthology is our focus, it is because the Arabic language is our obsession and the goal for which we have planted the seed of this library in Kuwaiti soils. Yet, our dream is to extend our branches to provide speakers of Arabic with this knowledge no matter where they are. Hence this website was launched to become a bridge of knowledge that combines past and present, hoping that we have accomplished some of our obligations towards our language.
Al-Babtain Central library for Arabic Poetry welcomes you to its world via its online presence which is launched at the same time as the inauguration of the library in Kuwait. This represents a message meant by its writer Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain to be Arabic in heart and passion and to be a lively intellectual forum.
We have employed all technological means to provide a model of modern libraries. We know that these aspirations cannot be fulfilled without a click that shall transmit your sight and insight into our world, a world that we wish you would participate in building through your presence and opinions, which we consider important parts of the word we wish to leave in the pages of history, as we knock on the gate of its knowledge through these Arabic volumes. You are welcome.
When the idea of establishing Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry first come to the mind of its founder, it was accompanied by a set of goals, in order for this work to be effective and to stimulate an uplifting future based on poetic creativity, which is the source of our language and the center of our culture and identity.
The library's most prominent goals are:
To contribute in making the State of Kuwait a cultural center that attracts scholars and knowledge-seekers from all over the world.
To collect Arabic poetic heritage of all kinds and forms, and to preserve and document it in a place with scientific character.
To optimally store and process poetic materials by all available methods that facilitate information retrieval quickly and easily so as to save the researcher's time and effort.
To establish a research center specializing in documentation and research of Arabic poetry, as poetry has not yet been collected, documented and analyzed with the attention it deserves.
To comprehensively sponsor poetry and poets, in order to activate the role of Arabic poetry in the arena of national identity through the library's contribution to celebrating patriotic, national and social occasions.
To establish relationships of mutual cooperation between the library and other cultural attractions and academic and scientific research centers, in a way that serves the cause of Arabic poetry in particular, and Arab culture in general.
To foster poetic sense in young generations with continued exposure to classical and original poetry.
To activate the role of Arabic language and to preserve its unique characteristics as found in classical textbooks, to act as a basic reference for scholars and amateurs alike.
The total number of all collections of Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry – up to its opening date- is some 138,000 books, excluding periodicals and electronic resources (the library is still receiving more books and periodicals).
The library uses the Arabic version of Dewy Decimal Classification system. It also depends on the book entitled "Tables for Indexing the Names of Arab Authors" by Aboul-Futooh Hamed Ouda, adopted by the Egyptian Supreme Council for Fostering Arts, Letters and Social Sciences (now the Supreme Council of Culture). This book was published in 1967 by the council to generalize benefiting from it, as it facilitates locating every Arabic book on the shelf. The library produced the book in the form of a database, which enables catalogers to retrieve information electronically through the library's automated system.
Collections of Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry
1. References: The library contains a unique collection of old and new Arabic references, such as general encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries of classical and contemporary Arab poets and writers, books on Islamic history, in addition to some general encyclopedias that serve Arab poetry, such as Al-Babtain Dictionary of Contemporary Arab Poets, which is one of the most important references in this field, as it contains the biographies of most Arab poets in the modern era.
2. Books: The total number of Arabic poetry and literature books in the library – up to the date of its opening - reached approximately 54,000 titles, including rare and hard-to-find publications and poems, some of them translated from other languages. The library is the first Arab library to include this huge number of books dedicated to Arabic poetry such as anthologies, books on poetry criticism throughout the ages - from classical to modern – a large number of heritage books dedicated to Arabic literature, poetry, grammar and rhetoric, in addition to specialized biographical books including the biographies of Arab poets and writers throughout the ages.
Rare books: There is a collection of rare books published in their earlier editions, dating back to 1834-1955, some of which were published in the old-fashioned lithography method. Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry owns some rare and unique books not found elsewhere, including a book on the science of logic entitled "Tanweer Almashreq Be'elm Almanteq", published in 1254 AH (1834 AD).
Poetry books printed in Braille:
- "Prosody" (2003) by Abdulaziz Nabawi and Salem Abbas. Published by Kuwait Blind Association.
- "Sections of Modern Arabic Poetry" (2002, two volume set) by Majed Al-Hakawati. Published by Kuwait Blind Association.
The collection of "Al-Najat Al-Ahliya" Library at Zubaire: This is a complete library given as a gift by Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain, and includes a collection of old and valuable books, including the book entitled "Khaas Al-Khaas", published in 1224 AH (1809 AD).
3. Periodicals: This includes complete sets of rare old and new periodicals that serve the field of Arabic poetry and literature, whether in print or out of print. The collection includes some old periodicals published in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Also, the periodicals of Abdulkareem Saud Al-Babtain's Library were added to this collection, which are an important addition that gives more value to the library because of their rarity and high literary significance.
4. Manuscripts: The library features a rare collection of original and reproductions of manuscripts relevant to Arabic poetry, Arabic language and rhetoric.
Original manuscripts: The library's manuscripts cover various fields, including poetry, literature, history, astronomy, mathematics and Islamic sciences, among others. The total number of original and rare manuscripts in the library is more than 1,000 currently; work is underway to scan and digitize such manuscripts, while preserving original copies for future use. Examples of such valuable manuscripts include:
- A book on the ethics of Islamic jurisprudence entitled "Kashful-Litham 'an Aaadabul-Iman wal-Islam Fil-Fiqh". This is a rare copy handwritten in 1170 AH (1756 AD) by the author, the scholar Murtadha Al-Zaubaidi, who died in 1205 AH (1790 AD).
- A book on the eloquence of the Arabic language entitled "Al-Fasseh Fil-Lugha" by the greatest kufic scholar in Arabic syntax, Abul-Abbas Ahmad bin-Yahia bin-Zaid Al- Shaibani, who died in 291 AH (904 AD). This copy was handwritten by the famous scribe Al-Attabi Muhammad bin-Ali bin-Ibrahim, who died in 524 AH (1161 AD).
- A rare biographical book entitled "Badee'atul-Bayan 'an Mautul-A'ayan fi Tarajim Al-Muhditheen" by the Sheikh of Darul-Hadith Al-Ashrafiya in 837 AH (1433 AD) and the Dimashqi, who died in 842 AH (1438 AD). This treatise is written in splendid naskh calligraphy by the famous calligrapher Muhammad bin-Ahmad, who died in 813 AH (1410) during the lifetime of the author.
Manuscripts copies: This collection includes the microfilms of some 650 manuscripts that have been saved on CDs, in addition to some 1,000 other manuscripts that were originally available on CDs, all of which are dedicated to Arabic poetry. The library spent much time and effort to collect these manuscripts from all over the world, which were then digitized to be made available to scholars and researchers in their full-texts.
5. Theses: The library contains some 2,000 academic theses specializing in Arabic poetry. The library made great efforts to obtain such theses for use by scholars and researchers. The library was also keen to make available some of the earliest academic theses in the Arab world, such as the thesis entitled "Women in pre-Islamic Poetry" by Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al-Houfi, dated in 1372 AH (1952).
6. Audio-visual materials: The library contains a collection of audio books, in addition to videocassettes and DVD recordings that include poems read in poets' voices, in addition to filmed poetry symposia. Visitors can find recordings of all the symposia and sessions of the Foundation of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Prize for Poetic Creativity. A special room was prepared for this kind of information resources, equipped with the latest technologies so as to help researchers gain maximum possible benefit of them.
7. The Publications of the Foundation of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Prize for Poetic Creativity: This collection includes the full set of the foundation's publications, including books, anthologies and dictionaries, the total number of which exceeds 100.
Collections of Mr. Abdulkareem Saud Al-Babtain's Library
Mr. Abdulkareem Saud Al-Babtain has donated his personal library to Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry. This unique library includes more than 100,000 titles, including printed books, manuscripts and periodicals, for which he spent more than 40 years collecting, from Arab and foreign countries. This library includes many rare books, some of which are lithographed in Medici, Italy, and in Berlin, Paris, Rome and other European and non-European cities since the 16th century onward in their first impressions. These include important and valuable references printed on linen paper. The library also includes a large number of Arab poets' anthologies from the pre-Islamic era and the early years of Islam, to Umayyad, Abbasid and Andalusian eras and to our present time. Abdulkareem's library also includes rare collections written by classical Arab writers, including biographies, novels, historical and geographical books and travel literature. The library also includes hundreds of Arabic newspapers and periodicals published inside and outside the Arab world since the 19th century to the present time, some of which have been out of print for decades, while others are still published to date. The oldest of such periodicals dates back to 1828.
This invaluable gift is a significant addition to Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry, as it enables general readers to make use of the place as a comprehensive literary library related to Arabic literature. The library administration has already prepared some 25,000 titles of this rich library. Hopefully all books will be received within a few months, to be processed and made available to readers as soon as possible.
1. Databases: The library was keen to make available a large collection of databases relevant to Arabic poetry and literature, whether via the Internet or in the form of CD-ROMs, such as the second edition of Al-Babtain Dictionary of Contemporary Arab Poets, which contains the biographies and collections of poems of a number of Arab poets who represent various intellectual and artistic schools , the total number of whom is 1946 poets, in seven volumes; the Poetic Encyclopedia database, published by the Cultural Congregation of Abu Dhabi, UAE, which includes 2,400,000 lines of poetry; and the Arab Poetry Library database, which includes 1,000,000 lines of Arabic poetry. In addition, the library contains some other databases in other fields that serve the domain of Arabic poetry, including the Arabic Literary Library database, which includes more than 350,000 electronic volumes, and the database of the Greater Compilation of Islamic Heritage, including 1,830 titles, of which 520 titles are relevant to Arabic poetry. This encyclopedia is issued in more than 10,000 volumes, books and parts.
2. Electronic books (E-books): The library has provided a number of E-books directly or indirectly relevant to the field of Arabic poetry, the total number of which is about 600 E-books.
3. Electronic periodicals: The library is a subscriber to the AskZad databank, which is the first Arabic databank, and contains some 500 periodicals indexed since 2001, which enables users to find their required materials easily through the use of indexes rather than searching thousands of pages of text. The analytical index of the databank enables various access points for search, such as title, page number, author, date, subject heading, issue number, edition, and type of material, in addition to biographical entries, entries for organizations and institutions, and keywords. The archive and its file contents are updated regularly around the clock, as information therein is made available within 24 hours of a periodical's publication.
The location of Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry derives its special significance from two main factors: first, it stands out in the heart of the capital (Kuwait City) with an area of some 12000 square meters, on a piece of land leased for 20 years from the Department of State Property Management; second, it has a picturesque view of the Arabian Gulf, which constitutes its northern boundary, in harmony with the literary beauty of its contents, and adding an atmosphere of serenity and meditation. Southward, the library borders on Abdullah Al-Ahmad Street, while its eastern boundary is Abu Obayda Street, which separates the library from the Heritage Village. The library is next to Al-Masjed Al-Kabeer (The Grand Mosque) and the Ministry of Planning, and across the street from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The location of the library represents a strategic dimension, as it is at the heart of the capital of Kuwait, conforming to the objectives of the library.
The building of Al-Babtain Central Library for Arabic Poetry catches the eye because of its aesthetic form, as the façade is designed as an open book. The design was adopted through a contest won by a Kuwaiti architectural consulting office, Al-Jazeera Consultants. The external form reflects the identity of the library, and makes one sense intimacy and harmony between outward appearance and essence. The external and internal designs of the library include many features of Kuwaiti and Arab heritage. The big wooden doors were made to represent Kuwait's history and to be a symbol of a glorious past whose splendor we endeavor to revive even if only through visual means.